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Law strikes blow against counterfeiters

Can the problem of counterfeit coins manufactured in China and shipped to the United States be eliminated?

Congress just increased the weaponry available to defeat the menace.

The Industry Council for Tangible Assets announced that the Senate passed legislation Dec. 15 previously passed by the House of Representatives.

What H.R. 2754 will do if the President signs the bill as expected is strengthen the Hobby Protection Act that originally became law in 1973.

The following list of new ammunition in the battle against counterfeits is supplied by ICTA:

“1. It includes penalties not only for ‘distribution’ but also for ‘sale’ in commerce of prohibited items.”

Take that nefarious online merchants.

“2. It adds a provision that gives ‘teeth’ to the Hobby Protection Act by allowing prosecution of  ‘any person who provides substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller’ knowingly engaging in any act or practice that violates the Act.”

No more hiding behind supposedly innocent or uninvolved parties.

“3. It expands the options for legal action to include anyone who ‘transacts business or wherever venue is proper under section 1391 of Title 28, United States Code.’ In other words, if any element of counterfeiting is found in the manufacture, shipping, sales, etc., of an item, the perpetrators can be prosecuted – wherever and however they might be doing business.”

Fewer sanctuaries for fraudsters.

“4. It adds a section on trademark violations specifically written to include the certification services and to add remedies to the Hobby Protection Act that currently exist under the Trademark Act of 1946 (USC Title 15, Sections 1116-1118) for violations of the Hobby Protection Act.”

This is to help combat fake slabs.

Former Congressman, coin collector and now legislative consultant to ICTA, Jimmy Hayes, offers kudos to those involved in the bipartisan effort.

He writes:

“The key Congressmen and their respective staff members who had made the House passage possible continued to not only follow the course of H.R. 2754 in the Senate but also directly contact their Senate counterparts each day, often each hour. Prior to the beginning of the ‘lame duck’ session, Barry Stuppler had met with his Congressman, Henry Waxman, asking assistance with H.R. 2754. In order to greatly increase the prospects for passage of the legislation, Congressman Waxman directly asked for assistance from his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, requesting that the bill be placed upon and stay on the ‘hot-line’ list of bills deserving primary consideration.

“Michelle Ash, Democratic counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was tireless in her efforts to maintain the interest of her counterparts in the Senate Commerce Committee. Sen. Markey, the newest Democratic member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and his chief of staff, Mark Bayer, continuously reminded Democratic majority floor staff of the need to take up the measure.

“At the same time, Republican House Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton and his chief of staff, Gary Andres, were working with Senator John Thune, who will be the Republican chairman of the Commerce Committee in the next Congress, as well as with high-ranking Committee Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi to accomplish the goal of passing the much-needed legislation attracting such strong bipartisan support.

“Dave Schwietert with Sen. Thune and Peter Feldman made countless calls and provided continuous follow-up messaging to their Republican colleagues, including their assistance with the removal of a ‘hold’ that at one point threatened the ability to even get a vote for passage of the bill.”

All collectors should pause and reread Hayes’ account of those involved. They should remember these names and show their thanks when and where they can. To do otherwise would mark numismatics out as undeserving of future help with our problems.

Most of all, ICTA deserves the gratitude of all hobbyists.

We collectors need to know the coins we buy are genuine and ICTA is in the front line fighting to make this so.

Well done ICTA. Using this space on my blog is the least I can do.

Visit ictaonline.org. Then you can lend a hand.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

 

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